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The Epic of Sebastian Gorka: Holocaust Manipulation for Political Purposes

Fallout from Donald Trump’s inaugural continues, as the Left keeps on trying to deny reality and resist coming to terms with the Republican victory in the November election. The latest victim of this effort to smear and delegitamize Mr. Trump’s appointees and advisors is Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

The controversy began at the inaugural, which Dr. Gorka attended wearing a colorful medal in honor, he said, of his father, a Hungarian patriot and refugee from the Communists. The medal was the badge of the Vitézi Rend.

Few people paid any attention, until the Forward chose to publish a hatchet job (which can be read here) with the provocative and inflammatory headline: "Exclusive: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aid Sebastian Gorka as Member." One more iteration of the “Trump-is-a Fascist” meme.

So what is (more properly, was) the Vitézi Rend and what, if anything, does it tell us about Dr. Gorka’s father or Dr. Gorka?

The answer requires a bit of a history lesson:

One of the consequences of losing the Great War of 1914-18 was the dismembering of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a sprawling state which incorporated all of the modern territories of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Austria, and Hungary, as well as about a third of modern Poland and territory today belonging to the Ukraine, Romania, and Italy. As a consequence of this dismemberment, independent Hungary was born, but it was a Hungary shorn of large numbers of ethnic Hungarians, who suddenly awoke to discover that they now lived in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

The empire had been a well-integrated economic whole, whose main industrial base had been the Czech lands, an area centered on the old imperial capital of Vienna, with another in western Hungary; most of the rest of the empire was agricultural. The war had been devastating economically as well as the incorporated butcher’s bill: The Kaiserliche und Königliche forces, as they were known, had suffered, according to most estimates, nearly 2,000,000 war dead, not including some 300,000 “missing in action” and an untold number of civilian casualties. An appreciable fraction of those were Hungarians.

Immediately after the war, Hungary underwent the upheaval of a Communist insurrection, led by Béla Kun, which led to the formation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in March 1919, and almost immediately thereafter to border wars with Czechoslovakia and Romania. The Communist state lasted for 133 days; it was brought down in August 1919 when the Hungarian Red Army was comprehensively defeated by the Kingdom of Romania, and Kun went into eventual exile in the USSR (where he was subsequently a victim of Stalin’s great purge).